The condescending guitar store salesperson typically ignores you until you ask to try a guitar. Then he reluctantly hands you the desired guitar. When you ask for a tuner he looks at you dismissively, takes the guitar and tunes it by ear. When he is done tuning, he drifts into playing a long, complicated guitar solo that leaves you feeling self-conscious about your playing skills. After his solo, you don’t feel comfortable testing the guitar just by playing a few chords; your fingers sweat as you are trying to perform the hardest guitar piece you know, screwing it up miserably to the pitiful look of the salesperson.guitar shopper
Choosing an instrument store when you are starting your music journey is important! It can have quite a dramatic effect on whether you’re going to persevere with music or not. Friendly staff at a store can make you want to progress and ask questions, while patronizing staff can demotivate you to the point where you don’t feel good about playing. Also, as you’re starting out, you will not know the ins and out and special care required for your instrument. With some stores, you can always stop by and ask questions and get repairs if needed.
I bought almost all my music gear in a large store near my previous office. I was lucky – I walked in one day just to take a peek during my lunch break, and the people who worked there were so nice. So I started frequenting the store and purchased a few items. If I would’ve gone into another store near home, maybe I wouldn’t have been playing music today (not far away from where I live there is a huge music store, but from what I heard, the salespeople are patronizing and arrogant). In the store near the office, whenever I walked in, they made me feel welcome and always provided help, support, and tips.
The first thing I purchased there was an acoustic guitar. I went there a few times during lunch breaks, tried a few different guitars, brought friends for second opinions, and took my time between visits to think about the purchase. I developed a long-term relationship with the salespeople. When I needed help with items I bought, I felt free to go get help from the store staff. Over time, I ended up buying an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, an audio interface, and a bunch of accessories such as straps at the same store. Even though I don’t work in that area anymore, it is still my music store of choice.
As you can read between the lines in my example above, location is important. You want to be able to go a few times and try different instruments until you find the right one; you want to be able to drop by if you need anything repaired or fixed. Instruments often need small adjustments – adjustments you will get for free at the store and would otherwise pay money for.
Some guitar store salespeople have the reputation of frustrated musicians who feel “stuck selling guitars” instead of making it big as rock stars. If their interest in making money is higher than their frustration, or if they are naturally nice people, they won’t be jerks to you; otherwise, they can be obnoxious and condescending to the point that you will be afraid to try a guitar next to them.
The condescending salesperson typically ignores you until you ask to try a guitar. Then he reluctantly hands you the desired guitar. When you ask for a tuner he looks at you dismissively, takes the guitar and tunes it by ear. When he is done tuning, he drifts into playing a long, complicated guitar solo that leaves you feeling self-conscious about your playing skills. After his solo, you don’t feel comfortable testing the guitar just by playing a few chords on it; your fingers start to sweat as you are trying to perform the hardest guitar piece you know, screwing it up miserably to the pitiful look of the salesperson.
It’s not fun to buy from a condescending salesperson, but beware of the too-nice, pushy salesperson as well. You want to feel that the store staff is on your side: that they can be trusted and won’t make you feel like an idiot, nor buy things you don’t need. You have to feel that they understand your needs and are not trying to push you into buying something that you don’t need or can’t afford. The salespeople should try to build a long-term relationship with you – if they sell you a guitar that is within your budget and you will enjoy, you will be motivated to come back and purchase a more expensive guitar as you advance.
Ask if the store makes repairs or works with someone who can make repairs, for times when professional instrument care is needed.
To sum up
Unless you’re super specific about the guitar that you want, most stores keep the same types and brands of guitars. Choose a store that is accessible and makes you feel comfortable – a store that you would like to visit again.
Prefer to shop online? I have a post on that too! Check out how to buy musical instruments online when you are overwhelmed by the options.